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Puzzle Solution #4: What Did You Expect?


Old Speckled HenTo those of you who expected to find a solution to my puzzle one week after its publication (as I had promised), my apologies. I have a laundry list of excuses that I can invoke if you are interested. I suspect you are not, so I will skip them.

As usual I want to provide a little spoiler space so that those of you who may have missed my original post can go back and work the crossword puzzle for yourselves. Please see Crossword #4: An Unlucky Mob: you probably won’t be sorry. I’ve heard from at least eleven puzzle solvers, and they have all given this one positive reviews. I’m not making this up. I think they liked it. They could be lying to me, of course, but most of them seem to be honest people (I wouldn’t even count my silver—if I had any—before inviting them over for dinner).

I can’t think of a better way to provide some spoiler space than to float a few of my bird photos here since they are so much better than my self-portraits. If you have not yet solved the puzzle, this is your last chance to bail out before you spoil the fun. If you are impatient to see the solution scroll past these photos quickly.

These White-crowned Sparrows posed on a fence for us during the Redding, California Christmas Bird CountA pair of Cinnamon Teals sleeping in the Sacramento NWR

I photographed thes Black-necked Stilts on the Big Island of HawaiiI found this Wilson's Snipe sitting on a post at the side of the road on my way to Morris, Minnesota

A male Purple Finch in the Sax-Zim bog area of MinnesotaAmerican Robin in our Little Canada yard

Yours truly, holding his adopted Sharp-shinned Hawk

The solution:

Puzzle solution

There are thirteen bird names hidden in the puzzle. Seven of them are represented by photos above (where you will find White-crowned SPARROWs, Cinnamon TEALs, Black-necked STILTs, a Wilson’s SNIPE, a Purple FINCH, an American ROBIN and a Sharp-shinned HAWK). The other five names are RAVEN, CROW, SWIFT, RAIL (I’ve seen Virginia Rails right here in the Twin Cities), KITE (I’ve seen Mississippi, White-tailed, Swallow-tailed and Snail-eating Kites, but none in Minnesota) and ANI (I found a Smooth-billed Ani in the Dominican Republic).

One sharp-eyed solver pointed out that TERN is hidden in the word “sternal,” and another wondered if AVES should have been counted. My intention was to use bird family names (none are species-specific) and to use clues that do not directly reference birds.

I made fewer mistakes this time. An early version of the puzzle used the word “proceed” where “precede” was intended (I blame my speech-to-text software). A couple of my answers were really obscure. The answer to 42-Across (clue: “Daejeon, South Korea sch.”) is CNU (for Chungnam National University). I wouldn’t expect any of my solvers to be familiar with this school, but the occasional use of this sort of obscure answer seems almost unavoidable. In this case, I enjoyed using the name of a university in the Korean city where my niece and nephew live. My nephew attends school there, but as far as I know, not this one.

One of my favorite clues was 26-Across (“You might see an Old Speckled Hen run from one”). The answer, TAP, puzzled a couple of solvers. Old Speckled Hen is a popular ale (see photo at the top of the page).

Many of you will not be surprised that I created a crossword puzzle using birds as a theme. Hence the title, “What Did You Expect?” It’s better than the title I gave the puzzle: “An Unlucky Mob.” Its origin? The puzzle’s thirteen birds and the mobbing birds of Hitchcock’s film.

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